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Proposed Bills Could Drastically Affect Indiana’s Tobacco Users

The annual healthcare cost on Indiana from smoking totals three billion dollars.

According to a 2015 study by Indiana’s Tobacco Prevention and Cessation Commission, for every pack of cigarettes sold in Indiana, the state spends $15.90 on healthcare costs relating to smoking.

With Indiana currently ranking 7th in adult smoking rates nationwide, some officials feel that more needs to be done to lower the smoking rate.

Republican Rep. Cindy Kirchofer’s proposal HB 1578 would raise the cigarette tax approximately one dollar per pack, eliminate protections for smokers in the workplace and raise the smoking age from 18 to 21.

Friday on Noon Edition, we discussed what these new regulations could mean for public health cost and quality, how these bills will affect non-smokers and what impact this will have on Indiana’s business community.

Mike Riley, Vice President of Healthcare Policy at the Indiana Chamber of Commerce gave insight on the “Smoker’s Bill of Rights” when it first went in to effect, saying,

“What happened in 1991, the tobacco industry lobbied some of the smokers in the legislature, quite frankly,… and got it passed to protect businesses from doing anything about it if you smoked.”

If the HB 1578 bill were to pass, it would remove this bill from state law.

Jon Macy of Indiana University’s School of Public Health spoke on how Indiana’s smoking rate got so high in the first place, saying

“You’ve just seen an erosion of funding available to do thing like mass media campaigns and tobacco cessation and prevention in local communities and it is pretty obvious what you get from that, it’s high smoking rates.”

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